Spain’s commitment to “months of work” as host of the NATO Summit next week has been to draw the allies’ attention to “threats on the southern flank.” According to Joseph Manuel delivery notes Y Daisy flower Oak trees, “the dangers in Africa are the same as those in the East”. The Strategic Concept of Madrid will collect these aspects “with complete security”, according to the Foreign Minister.
The fact that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been going on for four months now showing that “peace is not guaranteed” has finally cleared the ground: “The expansion of the Russian Army in Mali Y Republic Central African it is more than verified”, pointed out the Minister of Defense. “And all the allies show solidarity with the countries of the south, in the same way that they see our commitment by doubling the presence of Spanish soldiers in the defense of Ukraine”.
These threats that come from Africa, have been defined by both ministers, in the press conference that they have shared in Moncloasuch as “the Russian military presence”, and of mercenaries “such as the Cluster Wagner“, the expansion “of the terrorism jihadistwhich goes hand in hand”, and the episodes of hybrid warfare, “in which immigration or gas supply is used as a political weapon”.
[Unidas Podemos acudirá a la manifestación contra la OTAN que se celebrará este domingo en Madrid]
For this reason, and although Albares has not mentioned by name or Morocco nor to Algeriaresponsible for an assault on Ceuta 13 months ago and for specific threats to the supply of gas translated into suspensions of regular trade in other sectors, has indeed clarified that the autonomous cities of Ceuta and of Melilla they have nothing to fear: “NATO has always said it and its Secretary General has repeated it, Jens Stoltenberg, a few days ago. The organization will defend every inch of the allies’ territories.”
So why the hesitation? The Treaty of Washington, founding of NATO 70 years ago, expressly points out the protection of allies when the attack takes place in Europe or North America, which would leave out Ceuta and Melilla, which are located in African territory. The text makes reservations including the island territories that are located north of the Tropic of Cancer, which does guarantee the protection of the Canary Islands… but it does not include the two autonomous cities, which are not islands.
“It is a debate that does not make sense, and that has never taken place”, Foreign sources have clarified after the press conference. “It is part of the PP’s determination to weaken the government instead of collaborating with state policy.”
However, it is true that the Government has tried in recent months to ensure that there is an explicit mention of Ceuta Y Melilla, which has never been achieved. And that is why, in reality, it has not been attempted for this summit. Although, again, the invasion of Ukraine has shed light on this. Last March, when Pedro Sánchez visited the headquarters of the NATO in latviaTogether with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Stoltenberg has already said twice that “NATO will defend every inch of the territorial integrity of its members.”
[Mircea Geoana, número 2 de la OTAN: “Confiamos en que España aumentará el gasto en defensa”]
So, he was responding to the still visible threat that the war in Ukraine would spread to the Baltic countries. “What is included in the Treaty and in the Strategic Concept”, Albares explained to the press, “serves as a deterrent, and makes foreign countries and enemies tempt their clothes”.
That is why republics as small and little militarized as the Baltic ones have not been attacked by Vladimir Putinbecause NATO has an article 5 in its Treaty, and for this reason “Ceuta and Melilla are as well defended as the rest of the centimeters of Spanish territory”.
In any case, another of the possible effects of the new Strategic Concept, which looks to the southern flank, is the relationship of the Alliance in general and of Spain in particular with Morocco and Algeria. Rabat is a close associate of Washington, and Algiers is a close associate of Moscow.
Both countries have broken off diplomatic relations and share a latent war conflict over the Sahara Western. The first attacked Spain in May 2021 with the assault of 10,000 people to Ceuta, and the second has done so for two long months, breaking the Treaty of Friendship, suspending trade and imposing an increase in the cost of gas supply.
For this reason, at the summit there will be two specific scenarios to address these tensions, fueled from the south by irregular immigration led by mafias, Al Qaeda and Daesh terrorism and the Russian military expansion in the Sahel region.
“We will hold a dinner for foreign ministers to deal specifically with the threats from the southern flank, to which our partners in the region, Mauritania and Jordan, have been invited,” Albares explained. “And there will be a specific session of heads of state and government on the southern neighborhood.”
Sources from his department explain to this newspaper that only the Mauritanians and Jordanians have been invited “because they are the only partners that NATO has for now in the south, but this new 360-degree vision will expand that cast in future occasions”. Will Morocco be one of them? The Government says it does not know, and refuses to answer if it wishes.
In any case, due to this political issue on the southern flank, and due to the merely military, the Summit seems to be presented as a success for Spanish diplomacy and its purely Defense action in NATO. “The effort of our deployment on the borders of Ukraine is highly valued,” Robles said.
Spain has doubled its troops in the Latvian barracksfrom 300 to 600 troops, already has four frigates patrolling the Mediterranean and, at this moment, it patrols the skies of Lithuania, the hottest point in the West’s relationship with Putin, due to tensions with the trade of mainland Russia and its enclave of Kaliningrad, in the Baltic.
Even so, the internal tensions in the Government did not stop being protagonists of the press conference. Regarding the possible boycott of the United We Can ministers to the event, Robles was surprised. “They’re not invited, and never have been,” she clarified. “NATO is very strict and only Heads of State and Government and the Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs can go to the Summit… It is as if I asked not to go to a summit of the International Labor Organization! What sense would have?”.
There were more aspects pending to know. How many delegations are invited? There will be 44: the 30 members of the Alliance; the six EU countries that are not in NATO; Mauritania and Jordan, as southern partners; Australia, South Korea and Japan, as Indo-Pacific partners, the European Commission, the Council and the High Representative of the EU.
The week has been unfolding as could be foreseen: on the one hand, the President of the Government spoke for 20 minutes on the phone with Joe Biden, who wanted to thank him for “Spain’s effort” in organizing the summit; and on the other, the second vice president made it clear that she had no interest in being invited to the event. Afterwards, Pedro Sánchez talked by phone with Volodymyr Zelenskyand on her side, Ione Belarra insisted that she is “anti-NATO” and sent her number two from the Ministry to the demonstration against the summit.